Memorial opening in Staffordshire for the 'Bevin Boys'

The National Memorial Arboretum Photo: ITV News Central

A memorial is being officially unveiled today at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. It will be dedicated to the men who worked in coal mines in the Second World War.

The memorial is for the 48,000 young men, known as the 'Bevin Boys', who joined regular miners down the coal mines in dangerous work to keep coal supplies flowing during the war.

Former miners and the Countess of Wessex will be at official unveiling.

The Bevin Boys marching past the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day Service in 1998 Credit: PA

Thousands of experienced miners left mines to joined the armed services when Britain declared war in 1939.

More than 36,000 men had left the coal industry by the summer of 1943.

The British Government decided it needed around 40,000 men to take their places - the Bevin Boys'. In December 1943, Labour and National Service Minister, Ernest Bevin, devised a scheme whereby a ballot took place to put a proportion of conscripts into the collieries rather than the armed services. Men also volunteered for the service in the coal mines rather than military work.

It is thought around 5,000 miners lost their lives during the war.

The memorial has been designed by a former Bevin Boy, Harry Parkes, and is situated alongside memorials to many Army, Navy and Royal Air Force regiments at the Arboretum.

Read more about the National Memorial Arboretum here.

National Service Minister, Ernest Bevin Credit: PA